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Otto Rappolt * 1872

Grottenstraße 25 (Altona, Othmarschen)

Flucht in den Tod 25.10.1941

Otto Rappolt, born 18 Jan. 1872 in Hamburg, suicide 25 Oct. 1941 in Berlin

Grottenstraße 25

Otto Walter Rappolt was born as the fifth and youngest son of the merchant Joseph Rappolt (1835–1907) from Hesse, a citizen of Hamburg as of 1862, and Louise, née Hertz (1839–1911), from Wroclaw. The family lived in Hamburg-St. Georg at Kirchenallee 26 from 1872 until 1874. Their previous address from 1867 was Neuer Wall 69. Present at the home birth were the Altona surgeon and obstetrician Heinrich Goldstücker from Behnstraße 15 and the midwife Sara Rintel from Holstenstraße 3 who had already helped with the delivery of his brothers Ernst and Franz Rappolt. The Rappolt Family lived in 1875/1876 at Holzdamm 19 in St. Georg, afterwards until 1885 at Bundesstraße 18 in Rotherbaum and from 1886 until 1895 at Magdalenenstraße 35 in Rotherbaum. Like his older brothers Paul Rappolt (1863–1940), Arthur Rappolt (1864–1918) and Franz Rappolt (1870–1943), he worked in his father’s expanding textiles factory Rappolt & Söhne which had emerged from the company Oppenheim & Rappolt in 1897. Shortly after his 21st birthday, he moved to London for two and a half years where he presumably worked for a business partner in the textile industry. Following his return in Oct. 1895, Otto Rappolt did his military service and lived with his parents at Mittelweg 143 in Rotherbaum. In May 1903 he moved to the Berlin branch of Rappolt & Söhne at Kurstraße 38 in Berlin-Mitte. For half a year he was trained by his brother Franz who subsequently left Berlin after about five years and changed to the headquarters in Hamburg. The Berlin address book from 1905 described the company’s product range in detail: "Manufacture of travel blankets, rubber jackets for men and women, gentlemen’s attire for hunting and civilian clothes, umbrellas – import of English fashion for men and women, likewise angora furs. Representative of Fowners Brothers & Co., London (gloves) and F. H. Ayres, London (lawn tennis rackets)”. In 1907 Otto Rappolt was briefly named authorized representative in the Berlin address book. His residential address in Berlin was at Lützowstraße 31 in the Tiergarten district from 1904 to 1907 and at Corneliusstraße 5, directly at the Landwehr Canal from 1909 to 1910; finally he lived from 1911 to 1914 at Landshuter Straße 26 in Berlin-Schöneberg. During World War I, Otto Rappolt was detailed to the District Command III in Hamburg, thus enabling him to live with his brother Paul in his villa at Rondeel 37 in Winterhude from Oct. 1915. Nothing is known about his deployments at the front. The war appears to have been the first major turning point in Otto Rappolt’s life and impacted his profession and place of residence. He did not return to the Berlin branch of Rappolt & Söhne. In contrast to his older brothers, he did not move up in the management of his family’s business to become a co-owner, not even in Dec. 1918 when his second-oldest brother Arthur took his own life. From the end of 1918, the unmarried merchant Otto Rappolt lived with his third-oldest brother, the general practitioner Ernst Rappolt (1868–1942) in his house at Grottenstraße 25 in Groß Flottbek. His house was located outside the city limits on Prussian territory and was incorporated into Altona in 1927. At that point in time the other three brothers already long owned urban villas along the canal in the respectable neighborhood of Hamburg-Winterhude. No information is available on Otto Rappolt’s professional activities from 1918 to 1930. He may have taken an early payout from the family business and lived as a man of private means from his own assets or as a silent partner of a company. His issued passports show journeys abroad in 1918, 1921, 1923 and 1926, but his destinations are unknown. In 1923 he appears to traveled with his nephew Fritz Rappolt and his sister-in-law Charlotte Rappolt since the passport numbers issued differed by only a few numbers.

The Rappolt family members were assimilated Jews. Joseph Rappolt, who had gone to Hamburg in 1861 as a merchant of Jewish confession, purchased a large plot in the Christian part of the Ohlsdorf Cemetery on 10 July 1906 and had a tomb monument built by the Hamburg architect Alfred Martin, with benches and corner pedestals. Two days later his son Franz had his three sons baptized in the main Protestant church St. Catharinen. Paul Rappolt, who had been a member of a Masonic Lodge in Hamburg since 1891, had had his daughter Lilly Rappolt (1899–1981) baptized at the church St. Johannis in Harvestehude in May 1900. Some members of the Rappolt Family joined Hamburg’s German-Israelite Community during the 1920s, Franz Rappolt in 1925, Otto Rappolt in 1927 and Paul Rappolt in 1929. However Otto’s membership ended after a mere two years, in Dec. 1929. According to the entry in the culture tax card of the German-Israelite Community in Hamburg, he moved abroad in Oct. 1930; his brother Ernst Rappolt then moved to Rissener Landstraße 24 in Blankenese. It is not known whether his trip was for personal or business reasons, nor Otto Rappolt’s destination abroad. It is also not clear when and why he returned to Germany.

From Sept. 1933 at the earliest, he lived in Berlin where the Berlin branch of Rappolt & Söhne existed until the summer of 1938. On 8 Dec. 1938 he was issued an identity card by the Ost-Havelland county commissioner, to the northwest of Berlin, which Jews were required to carry at all times as of 1 Jan. 1939. Otto Rappolt appears to have lived outside of Berlin at that time. Seven different accommodations were documented for him until 1941, all sublets, in the capital of the Reich, Berlin. They are an indication of the escalating lack of rights for Jewish people under the German Reich. As of 30 Apr. 1939 they were stripped of tenant protection. From 1939 Otto Rappolt became a compulsory member of the newly formed "Reich Association of Jews in Germany” which was controlled by the Gestapo. All "full Jews” had to comply with the Association’s anti-Semitic orders. Otto Rappolt had to pay the National-Socialist government a "Levy on Jewish Assets” totaling 60,000 Reichsmarks (RM) in five installments. His final residence was in the family home of Emmy Berliner at Brandenburgische Straße 46 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, in a room on the 1st floor, presumably a building that had been declared a "Jewish house”. In Berlin there were around 3,000 so-called Jewish houses to which Jewish residents of the capital were assigned, and from where they were later deported. While he regularly changed accommodation, he was unable to take his furniture with him so he stored it with the moving company Brasch & Rothenstein, a company that was "Aryanized” in 1936 and continued business under the name "Harry W. Hamacher”.

On 1 Sept. 1941, a police regulation was issued that all Jews from 19 Sept. had to wear a yellow "Jewish star” clearly visible on the left breast of their clothing. Hopeless that he would ever have any prospects for living in the "Aryan national community” of a National-Socialist Germany, the 69-year-old Otto Rappolt apparently began thinking of suicide as his final option. On 4 Sept. 1941 he left a detailed testament concerning his assets of approximately 150,000 RM in a sealed envelope with a notary public in Berlin-Wilmersdorf. In it he carefully divided up his material and financial assets, granting his brother Ernst Rappolt an annual annuity. The names of the beneficiaries give us a clue as to Otto Rappolt’s friends, even if they don’t explain the exact nature of his relationship to the individuals. Among his family members, he appears to have had the closest relationship with his nephew Fritz Rappolt (1900–1942) who was on disability. He was not only named most frequently in the testament, he was also named as reversionary heir for Otto Rappolt’s brother Ernst and for his nieces and nephews who had emigrated if payment or transfer could not be made to them within three years. In addition, the following people living in Berlin were remembered with so-called bequests: his unmarried cousin Vally Guttmann, born on 14 Dec. 1874 in Berlin, who was deported to Theresienstadt Ghetto in July 1942 and to Treblinka extermination camp in Sept. 1942; Hugo Goldschmidt, born on 3 May 1869 in Hamburg, who was deported to Lodz Ghetto on 18 Oct. 1941 where he died three months later; the lawyer Ernst Ransohoff who apparently worked as a judge at the Higher Regional Court in Berlin in the 1950s; and the unmarried Marie Rühle. Ms. Ida Danziger and the young graphic designer Gisela Falke born in 1920, both from Hanover, received bequests. Moreover, ten percent was specified for Jewish charitable purposes. His testament ended with the words, "Finally, I thus wish to shout to all of my friends and relatives a heartfelt farewell and wish them everything good and all the best in their future lives.”

On 24 Oct. 1941, Otto Rappolt, the 58-year-old Gertrud Fleischer, née Herrmann, born on 14 Feb. 1887 in Berlin and her sister took their own lives together at the family home of Emmy Berliner at Brandenburgische Straße 46; they were taken to the Jewish hospital where they died. On 27 Oct. 1941 a deportation train carrying Jewish men and women of Berlin left the German capital for Lodz. It included residents of Brandenburgische Straße 46, and Stolpersteine now remember them there. Otto Rappolt’s estate was immediately seized by the Secret State Police. The state refused to let Morris Alexander Samson of Hamburger, executor of the testament, to take possession of the household inventory. The heir of the household furniture, Gisela Falke, wrote in a letter to the Berlin compensation office in 1954: "The responsible Nation-Socialist authority refused (in 1941) to release to me the objects I inherited on the grounds that Mr. Rappolt, as a Jew, had no right to dispose of his property or to bequeath it to me as a half-breed of the 1st degree.”

In his testament, Otto Rappolt had stated that he wanted to be cremated without a ceremony. His urn was interred at the Rappolts’ family grave at the Protestant Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg on 29 July 1942, according to documents belonging to the cemetery administration. At that time, relatives of the Rappolt Family had already perished, been deported or had emigrated abroad so no one was there to have a gravestone set for him.

A Stolperstein was laid for his brother Franz Rappolt in front of his home at Leinpfad 58 in Winterhude and in front of the company’s headquarters Rappolt-Haus 1 at Mönckebergstraße 11 in old town Hamburg. A Stolperstein commemorates his brother Ernst Rappolt at Rissener Landstraße 24 in Blankenese. Stolpersteine have been laid for his sister-in-law Charlotte Rappolt, née Ehrlich, and his nephew Fritz Rappolt at Leinpfad 58, and for his sister-in-law Johanna Rappolt, née Oppenheim, at Rondeel 37. (See their biographies at

Translator: Suzanne von Engelhardt
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: April 2018
© Björn Eggert

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 8; StaH 332-3 (Zivilstandsaufsicht), A Nr. 49 (2677/1868, Geburt Ernst Rappolt), A Nr. 92 (4124/1870, Geburt Franz Rappolt) und A Nr. 123 (377/1872, Geburt Otto Rappolt); StaH 332-5 (Standesämter), 8560 u. 52/1893 (Eintrag Heirat von Helene Rappolt mit Israel Alfred Elias 1893) und 9769 u. 4078/1918 (Sterberegister 1918, Arthur Rappolt); StaH 332-8 Meldewesen Band 1, A 24 Band 393 (Passwesen 1851–1929, Buchstabe R); StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 1588 (Franz Rappolt); StaH 741-4 Fotoarchiv (Mikrofilm Alte Einwohnermeldekartei 1892–1925), Otto Rappolt; Stadtarchiv Friedberg (Hessen), XVIII, Ortsliste über die in der Stadt Friedberg Ausgewanderten 1856-1919 (1861, Nr. 6, Joseph Rappolt); Landesamt für Bürger- und Ordnungsaufgaben in Berlin (Abt. I A, Entschädigungsbehörde), Akte 221.908 (Otto Rappolt); AB Hamburg 1866–1867, 1869, 1871, 1874–1877, 1881, 1883, 1885–1886, 1888, 1891, 1893–1895; AB Altona 1920, Straßenverzeichnis Villenanlage Großflottbek (Grottenstraße 25); AB Hamburg u. Altona 1919, 1925, 1929, 1930; AB Berlin 1898, 1904–1912, 1914; Friedhof Hamburg-Ohlsdorf, Alte Gräberkartei, Kapelle 6, AA 24, Nr. 333-340 (Familiengrab Rappolt, Hinweis auf die beigesetzte Urne von Otto Rappolt); Auskunft Dr. Diana Schulle, 15.3.2014.
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